NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 6 – The Judiciary has once again underscored the importance of constructive interdependence between the three Arms of Government in the protection of the public interest.
In a speech delivered at the opening of the 12th Parliament’s post-election seminar in Mombasa on Monday, Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu said the Judiciary, Executive and Legislature all have a shared mandate in ensuring the protection of the public good and the rule of law.
Justice Mwilu warned that disregard of court orders could lead to lawlessness urging the MPs to be at the forefront in championing strict adherence to court orders since the courts enforce the very laws passed by members of parliament.
“Any act that compromises the lawful exercise of judicial authority is less an attack on judges, magistrates and Judiciary staff; it is rather more an attack on the sovereignty of the people of Kenya,” she pointed out.
“When the sovereignty of the people is challenged through disregard for orders and decisions of the court, no institution ought to be more enraged than the institution that most directly represents the exercise of such sovereignty; the Legislature,” Justice Mwilu said adding that court orders and decision of the court “must be respected by all persons and institutions, including all state and public officers.”
She urged Parliament not to hesitate “summon, criticize, investigate, and censure” those who undermine the rule of law saying lawmakers must be single-minded in the resolve to protect interests of the public.
“Disregard of one court order compromises the judicial authority that has been delegated to the Judiciary by the people in exercise of their sovereignty; it diminishes and weakens the rule of law; it undermines the democratic fabric of our nation; and it exposes us all to the vagaries of despotism, violence, and injustice,” Justice Mwilu warned.
She told members of the National Assembly at the seminar to support the Judiciary’s transformation journey by enhancing revenue allocation from the current about one per cent of the national budget to the globally recommended 2.5 per cent.
The underfunding of the Judiciary, she said, was a major impediment to an ongoing ambitious expansion and modernization programme aimed at taking services closer to citizens and ensuring swift service delivery through automation of court processes.
“When we are not supported, or prevented from, or lack capacity to perform our duties, the persons most adversely affected are not judges and magistrates; it is the people of Kenya, the constituents you represent, and in whose interest you have the sole duty and obligation to act,” she told the parliamentarians.
Justice Mwilu said national aspirations human rights, equality, freedom, democracy, social justice, and the rule of law, could only be achieved if the capacity of the Judiciary is continually enhanced and its independence safeguarded.
With a staff population of 5,619, the Judiciary has increased the number of judges nationwide to 159 from only 53 in 2011.
The State of the Judiciary and the Administration of Justice Report, (SOJAR) 2016-2017 released in December last year noted an addition of 28 judges in the year under review, Chief Justice David Maraga making a commitment for enhanced justice to citizen ratio which currently stands at 1: 304,000 citizens.
READ: One judge serves 304,000 citizens in Kenya
CJ Maraga also recently launched numerous court expansion, rehabilitation and construction projects with a target of having at least one High Court station in each county and at least a Magistrate Court in each of the 290 constituencies.
Currently, there are 39 High Court stations located in 38 counties.
Among court construction projects underway are a Sh445 million new Mombasa High Court and Sh347 million new Voi High Court building.